When I wrote this song, a fellow was playing for the Toledo Mud Hens. He was 38 years old and chasing the minor league home run record. I watched him play a lot those last few years and, as his final season was running down, I was feeling a little melancholy watching him. The Tigers wouldn't call him up in September. He was too old. Yet, I didn't feel sorry for him. I would have loved to be 38 again and playing pro baseball. I thought back on some old ballplayers whose paths I crossed over the years and wrote a song about what they had in common. Three former ballplayers. All three played for the Tigers.
The Ballparks of our Minds
© 2015 by Russ Franzen
He sat alone at the bar. When I saw him, I knew his name.
The last time I saw him was at a baseball park. Hitting homers brought him fame.
I asked if I could join him. He said, “If Jim Beam joins us, too
So we traded buying drinks and, like baseballs, the stories flew.
He told about the long balls. Some of the farthest I'd ever seen.
Of facing legendary pitchers and swings that brought him to his knees.
And about the old ball parks that history's left behind.
But I still see the Big Guy in the batter's box in the ballparks of my mind.
Chorus: They were some young child's hero for what they did with a bat and ball
They brought joy to our springs and summers and sometimes into fall.
But the ballplayers get old and the kids grow up in kind
But our heroes stand tall in the batters box in the ballparks of our minds.
I stopped for a cup of coffee. There were donuts in the case.
His workday nearly over when I came in at lunchtime late
He poured himself a coffee and greeted all of us inside
And the donuts were as good as the baseball talk. My trip was worth the ride.
My boyhood hero standing there. Telling stories, he was wired.
He wore flour up to the elbow that once threw balls of fire.
His playing days long over, But none of us forget
His blazing fastball, the scary curve and his heroics with his bat.
He steps into the batter's box like a thousand times before
He's an old man playing a young man's game, wearing minor league décor.
He played a few years in the majors where the pitchers showed no fear
But in the Minors he can hit the long ball. He's a home town hero here.
The fans come out to see him but the scouts don't give him looks
He can still hit the ball out of the park, His name a'top the record books
And one day soon, he'll hang 'em up. But he'll always have a story
For the grown up kids who watched him play. Their hero he'll always be.